Muddbunnies Introduces Lalena Desautels, our newest product reviewer at MuddBunnies.com! Â To get to know her a little better, here is her interview:
MB: Any nicknames?
Lalena: My name, Lalena Desautels, is a hard one for many to pronounce. As a resultÂ I’ve been given many nicknames, “Lal”, “Llama”, “Hotel Linoleum”, “Chuck D”Â and my childhood name, “Green Pickle on a Bicycle”.
MB: So tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What is your â€œday jobâ€?
Lalena: I was born in Vanderhoof, BC, but lived in many Northern towns across CanadaÂ due to the fact that I’m a “mining brat”.
I spun my wheels a lot in my 20’s, but have found my passion. I now work as aÂ Montessori Guide (teacher) and I’m so passionate about my work. Some of myÂ greatest influences were teachers. I’m so happy to now have the responsibility toÂ help guide children into discovering themselves, their true personality in order toÂ become well adjusted, independent, caring individuals who are excited to learnÂ and explore the world in which they live.
MB: When did you start riding?
Lalena: I remember dad teaching me to ride without training wheels and that was it. IÂ discovered mountain biking in 1994. I was lucky to discover it as I was in a smallÂ town in the middle of nowhere, but it just happens that my English teacher was aÂ passionate rider who ran a riding club out of the school I went to. Looking back,Â I’m so thankful I had that opportunity as I believe it’s helped shape me into theÂ positive person I am today.
MB: Where do you ride?
Lalena: I was riding in North Vancouver and love riding on Fromme. However, inÂ September I took a really great job in Calgary. Now that the snow is here, IÂ picked up a DJ/Street bike, shovelling snow and becoming reacquainted withÂ skate park riding. It’s actually pretty fun, but I am missing the shore and its allÂ year riding. I still ride the Shore whenever I’m visiting Vancouver.
MB: What is your favorite trail?
Lalena: Crank It Up, in Whistler! That trail makes me feel like a kid! It’s also such a greatÂ trail to build confidence which helps progress my riding. I sound like an excitedÂ puppy when I get to the bottom.
MB: What is your riding Style?
Lalena: Fun? Is that a riding style? I love the new style of fast flowy trails with jumps,Â berms, and drops. I also appreciate the super technical North Shore trails,Â especially when I ride a section clean that may have previously caused me grief. Â I don’t mind climbing to earn my downs but I definitely prefer the downs. ReallyÂ though, anytime I get to turn the cranks is a fantastic day.
MB: Current Bike(s)?
Lalena: Hahaha, you might laugh! It’s a 1997 Schwinn 4 Banger. I call it my “HarshÂ Barge”. It’s been through a lot; stolen, broken, and welded. This spring will beÂ when I treat myself to a new bike to have an intimate relationship with. I’ve beenÂ eyeing the Banshee Rune or the Transition Covert.. both really great bikes fromÂ fantastic companies. I’m still keeping my “Barge” though; I just can’t give up theÂ memories imbued in that bike.
As previously mentioned, I also have a DJ bike which is a Specialized P2.
MB: When did you start racing and what are you plans for racing this season?
Lalena: I started racing in 1995 and did mostly cross country. It was in 1998 whenÂ I started racing downhill after witnessing a few downhillers firing a potatoÂ cannon during a dual slalom race; that’s when I decided that I was in the wrongÂ discipline. My dad was awesome and super supportive, helping me get to most ofÂ the National downhill races and allowing me to travel by myself.
MB: Racing Highlights?
Lalena: My first year racing downhill, I finished 1st in Canada as a Junior which qualifiedÂ me to race the Worlds in Mont Sainte Anne, Quebec. I finished 10th at that raceÂ after crashing twice on the course. It was such an amazing experience, and itÂ was pretty cool to race in the same category as Sabrina Jonnier. I learned that if IÂ slow down I will go faster.
MB: Favorite race course?
Lalena: Monte Sainte Anne. It was my Achilles heal of race courses. It’s so technical,Â long, fast, and usually very wet. It’s one of those courses that if I could stay onÂ my bike I would post good times, but it was the race course that I often kissedÂ rock and gravel. I always loved it though.
MB: Describe your best biking day?
Lalena: I can’t describe it. When I try to remember my best biking day, I feel like I’m aboutÂ to have a seizure because my brain just can’t handle that many synopsis’ firing atÂ once.
MB: What discipline do you want to try?
Lalena: Other then a small race I did at Canada Olympic park this September, I haven’tÂ raced in 12 years. I’m going to get into racing again this year, but I won’t focus onÂ downhill as it’s just too expensive and requires such a specific bike. As a resultÂ the whole Enduro and Super D disciplines have totally caught my interest! KatÂ Sweet of Sweet Lines is hosting the “Women Tour de Freeride” that I’d like toÂ try and compete in most of the events. I also want to do some jump comps andÂ progress in that discipline. I’d like to be able to show the world that women CANÂ jump. Finances will dictate how much racing I can do, considering that I alsoÂ want to get a new bike.
MB: What has biking taught you?
Lalena: It kept me out of trouble as a teenager. It’s given me a positive self image,Â confidence, and sense of independence. We live in a world where the mediaÂ really pushes this twisted image of femininity, I look back and I’m glad IÂ experienced mountain biking and was exposed to the fact that its ok to be strong,Â rough and tumbly as a girl. In 2013, I’d like to influence young woman, throughÂ coaching, and helping them discover this great activity; this way of life.
MB: Biggest hurdle overcome when riding?
Lalena: Sometimes, I feel like its kind of lame, when I compare this to what some otherÂ riders have gone through but I always have to remind myself that each personsÂ experience is a personal one.
Anyways the biggest hurdle for me was building up my confidence after messingÂ up on a 10 foot skinny drop, landing straight on my shoulder and separatingÂ it. To be honest I’ve only built up my confidence last season and this accidentÂ happened 11 years ago. Every time I’d look at a double, a drop, or skinny I wouldÂ get so scared and be unable to ride it because my body was too stiff. I’m not sureÂ what was different about this injury as I guarantee it is not the first mountain bikeÂ injury I’ve endured.
MB: What are your personal riding goals?
Lalena: I have so many for this coming season. I call 2013, the year of the bike.
First of all, I want to give back. I want to take part in a lot of trail days. I want toÂ coach so that I can inspire others and help them discover mountain biking.
Second, I want to continue to progress my riding. I want to get better atÂ jumping; I want to learn to throw some 360’s. I want to get back into racing andÂ just really enjoy riding new places and meeting new people through it.
I basically want to fall in love all over again with riding.
MB: Fav place to ride and why?
Lalena: The Pacific Northwest. It just reminds me of where I started mountain biking;Â which was Marathon, Ontario where it was often foggy, wet, and rooty.
MB: Fav female to ride with?
Lalena: Is this a person who I have ridden with? I would have to say Cecile Gambin. IÂ have not ridden with her in over a decade, but I will never forget her. She wasÂ racing downhill in the senior division when I was a junior. She basically took meÂ in under her wing and took care of me while I was travelling around Canada toÂ race.
MB: Fav male to ride with?
Lalena: Haha, it sounds lame, but I love riding with my boyfriend, James. He thinks itsÂ awesome that I’m faster than him and laughs when I eat it and have to go homeÂ bleeding. He’s always up for any kind of ride and always sports his big grin. I’veÂ had boyfriends in the past that stopped riding with me because they didn’t likeÂ that I was faster, or they didn’t like it when I’d come home with gouges in myÂ shin.
MB: Headphones or no headphones when you ride?
Lalena: I LOVE music, but riding is one those activities that I don’t wear earbuds.Â However, I certainly get myself pumped with tunes as I’m getting my gear on.
MB: iPhone, Blackberry, or Android?
Lalena: I’m embarrassed to admit that I can’t imagine my life without my iPhone. IÂ typically don’t like to feel such a need for material possessions.
MB: Cats or Dogs?
Lalena: I love furry things of all kinds. But if I have to choose… Then dogs because theyÂ make such great riding companions. I’m pretty sure I would be characterized as aÂ dog person. See cat friends vs dog friends on YouTube.
MB: Clipped in or Flats?
Lalena: Racing DH, I was a clipped gal as it just gave me that extra burst in the openÂ sections and kept my feet on the pedals when things got rough. Now though, IÂ ride flats; one less pair of shoes to own.
MB: Shuttle or Climb?
Lalena: I appreciate both, but in the last 5 years I’ve certainly done a lot more climbingÂ than shuttling.
MB: What is your favorite music?
Lalena: Downtempo, progressive house, indie alternative, folk; I like a large assortment.
MB: Other sports you play, participate in?
Lalena: Being outdoors! Camping, backpacking, being in the bush as much as possible.
I got into hockey early in 2012. I was playing for this awesome beer league teamÂ on the North Shore called the Maulers and its such a blast! It’s a good excuse toÂ drink beer and skate around.
I also did a lot of martial arts and even competed in a caged MMA match.Â However I’ve placed that on the back burner for now so that I can focus more onÂ biking.
MB: Thanks Lalena! Â We look forward to your reviews!
The Muddbunnies encourage and welcome female riders of all experience and skill levels to join them in getting down and dirty. Come on, ride like a girl!